Book Review: The Monkey’s Mask, Dorothy Porter

Hello!

For those interested my review of Dorothy Porter’s The Monkey’s Mask was  posted on the RMITV In Review blog last night to coincide with last nights episode of the ABC’s, The Book Club. This post is a bit late but I thought it would be worth doing anyway, here’s a little snippet of the review:

“I want you, trouble,
on the rocks.”

Dorothy Porter’s The Monkey’s Mask is one of many novels I probably wouldn’t have picked up at all if it weren’t for uni, but I’m thankful I did. Porter manages to seamlessly blend the genres of crime thriller and lesbian romance into nearly three-hundred pages of verse. Yes, you heard me correctly! Verse. This somewhat unusual combination of crime, passion, and poetry makes for an intensely engaging read right to the last line….

Click here to read the rest of my review of this beautiful verse novel, and maybe take a look at some of the other review on the blog too!

I hope you all are enjoying your week! 🙂

Book Review: The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

The Book Thief

Goodreads Blurb:

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

 

My Thoughts:

This is a novel I had been meaning to read for a while. Both family and friends have been telling me for years that I would love it, and quite stupidly, I think it was just that which put me off reading it. Whether it was the possibility that I wouldn’t like it even though they said I would, or the fact that they had told me I would definitely get very emotional (to say the least), I’m not sure. Quite possibly it was both?

However, I picked up a second hand copy of the book at the university Thursday markets, and at that point there was no turning back. I have never regretted ‘not reading a book sooner’ more than I did in the moment I finished reading Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief.

The Book Thief is one a part of a very small group of books where I have not been able to physically move for quite a while after finishing because I have been so overwhelmed by either emotion, the writing, just the plot in general, or some deeper meaning. With The Book Thief it was option ‘E’, all of the above. This was one of those novels which has left me a sobbing mess on the couch with a box of tissues, a near empty packet of Maltesers, and the feeling that I had just experienced a whole years worth of varied emotions in one sitting.

I would be lying if I said I was completely hooked from page 1. It took a while to get used to the narration style as it seemed rather jarring to me, and in some ways difficult to connect with. However after reading further I got used to it and began to connect with the novel in so many different ways. Soon enough I had fallen in love with the story and it’s characters, leaving me with the certainty of heartbreak when I finished reading. For me, it was ultimately the characters and all their individual quirks and faults which drew me in and kept me reading. Each with their own personal motivations, which were each extremely human, which within the darkness of the overarching plot, gave me something to hang onto.

The writing itself is rather unique, but it is definitely worth persevering with if you are initially put off by the novel’s unusual style. Overall this is a rich and beautifully told story. It left me in a whirlwind of emotions, some of which I didn’t know I could feel. I am so glad that I have read this, it really was a beautiful read!

Book Review: The Word Exchange, Alena Greadon

IMG_0778Goodreads Blurb:

In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted “death of print” has become a reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are things of the past, and we spend our time glued to handheld devices called Memes that not only keep us in constant communication but also have become so intuitive that they hail us cabs before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange.
Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), where Doug is hard at work on the last edition that will ever be printed. Doug is a staunchly anti-Meme, anti-tech intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used email (everything now is text or videoconference) to communicate—or even actually spoke to one another, for that matter. One evening, Doug disappears from the NADEL offices, leaving a single written clue: ALICE. It’s a code word he devised to signal if he ever fell into harm’s way. And thus begins Anana’s journey down the proverbial rabbit hole . . .

My Thoughts:

My sister gave me this book for Christmas, I admit though, that I found it in a local book shop pre-Christmas and Ev was at a loss of what to give me so here we are! The blurb instantly grabbed my interest. No that I’ve finished the book wasn’t really what I expected however Alena Graedon’s The Book exchange did not disappoint at all.

The book follows the story of Anana, she works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English language, in a world where books, libraries and newspapers are a thing of the past. They are working on the last edition to ever be printed, that is until one night when Doug disappears all together leaving a one word clue: ALICE. A code he devised with his Anana in case he ever got into harms way. This sends Anana with her friend and colleague Bart on a journey to find him. They find more than they bargain for though and get tied up in a series of events which could mean the destruction of society as they knew it.

The Word Exchange is set in the point of view of Anana, it reads almost like a recount of events rather than ‘in the present time’ story, throughout there are a number of chapters which read like diary entries of the character Bart. This way of story telling, to me, was very effective. The style of writing made it seem all the more real and helped me to connect with the two main characters.

The premiss for the story being a future on earth where books and reading have become nearly unheard was something that, as a book lover, really hit home with me, and in all honesty, scared me a little to. Especially as I read on to discover the Meme, a device used in it’s most basic function as a phone, but then it is so much more than that. With the ability to do mostly everything, including calling a taxi if the owner so wants. The devices left humanity in an almost impersonal interactions, with only a few main characters not using them, including Bart and Doug. What seemed to shock me the most though was the fact of how real this situation could become in our world, and how perfectly Graedon has twisted something that is so normal in our lives and made them bad.

I have seriously loved every moment I’ve spent reading The Book Exchange, there is the perfect combination of suspense with cliff hangers broken up by the differing points of view, with a balance of plot twists where I found my self having to close the book on my hand, hoping the characters would change their minds. When I finished I literally just sat for a bit, and I was grinning from ear to ear! Quite literally!

I definitely recommend this as it is a very, very good read, it was gripping until the end and I got completely and utterly immersed in that world. Though it’s not the most relaxing read, it was all very exciting with a very intricate story line from two points of view. Which for me was perfect, I’d much prefer to be on the edge of my seat than everything be perfect and relaxed, so if you’re anything like me in that sense then you should definitely give The Word Exchange a read!

Thanks for reading!
Anna x

Film Review – The Maze Runner

maze_runner_ver2I actually saw this before reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner (my review here), also wait until I had actually read the book. So when I did watch it I had no idea about the movie at all, apart from the fact that it had a Maze, Dylan O’Brien and the guy who was in not just one but two of my favourite childhood (well one was childhood anyway) movies (Thomas Brodie-Sangster – Nanny McPhee and Love Actually). I left the cinema wiping away tears and in a slight amount of shock, I had not expected the ending I’d just seen and reading James Dashner’s Maze Runner Trilogy had just hit the top of my to-do list.

To say I loved this film is probably an understatement, having read the book now, I could see that the casting was pretty much perfect, and the fact that Dylan O’Brien – one of my favourite actors and Tomas Brodie-Sangster – a childhood favourite were starring, along with a couple of other actors who I now love as well made it so much better.

As an adaption, after reading the book I could pick changes that Wes Ball (Director) had made, some I thought worked, and other bit’s I missed and wish they could have kept.These ended up being little things such as Newt not calling Thomas ‘Tommy’ and the lack of the telepathic talking between Thomas and Tereasa, which to the normal movie goer wouldn’t have made much difference, but as a huge fan of the books and of the Newt/Thomas relationship I really wished the nickname had stuck. There are a couple of changes though with the ending, such as Gally’s supposed death and the way in which Chuck died which didn’t give both characters the ending I felt they needed, which the original story had.Also, as I have now finished reading the trilogy, I am not sure how these changes will fit in in the long run, and how they will effect events in the next two movie sequels.

All nitpicking aside I really do recommend this film,  I think that the Ball has done an amazing job with  direction and all the actors do an amazing job. The whole thing is done really well and all the known CGI is highly believable. The soundtrack is awesome, and I’ve  been listening to it non-stop since it came out. My favourite tracks being: The Maze runner, Chat with Chuck, and Finale.

What did you think? And if you haven’t seen it then are you planning to?I think it is really worth it!

Thanks for reading,
Anna x

Book Review: The Maze Runner, James Dashner

the maze runner

Goodreads Blurb:

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

 

My Thoughts:

I made a personal boo-boo so to speak with this book, and saw the movie first – it didn’t exactly ruin the book for me, as there are many differences between the two, but I always like to read the book first so I can create my own image of the characters in my head.

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, is the first in the Maze Runner Trilogy. A friend reccomended I read these, and seeing as the same friend had recommended I read the Hunger Games Trilogy which I absolutely loved, I took her advice with Dashner’s trilogy as well.

James Dashner has created a unique world in The Maze Runner, a story set in a post-apocalyptic world where the organisation WICKED is running experiments to try and find a cure for The Flare. A group of boys who call themselves Gladers, are sent into the center of a giant maze with no memory of their previous lives and what has happened to the earth. With no other choice they build new lives in ‘The Glade’, while trying to piece together what they were doing there and find a way out of the Maze. This is the world Thomas get’s thrown into, and from the moment he does, things begin to change.

From the first page I was hooked, as the reader you start off just as confused as the main character, Thomas, who is introduced hurtling upwards in an enclosed metal cage towards what you eventually are told is ‘The Glade’. This is an interesting change, as the reader you usually know more than the protagonist from the get go, but being just as in the dark about what was happening as Thomas is, keeps you asking questions which don’t get answered until much later on in the story. You take the full journey with Thomas, meeting the other characters and learning about the crazy situation he’s been thrown into gives an insight into the happenings of the story which can rarely be matched. For me, this is what really gripped me, the unusual beginning which set off a domino effect of questions which just have to be answered.

The main thing I absolutely loved though about this novel is that there was little to no romantic plot – the main relationships are the strong friendships which the boys have made through their adverse situation. They have built their own world, with jobs, leaders and rules to keep the place running smoothly and keep everyone safe. ‘The Box’ had been sent up every month with new supplies and they used what they were given, they didn’t mope, they used what they had to survive, building a family in the process.They develop their own language tropes, something which, though it feels odd to read at the start, seems normal quite soon into the novel, and brings another interesting and amusing change to the writing.

The friendships which Thomas makes with Chuck, Mihno and Newt are three which are completely true despite the forced circumstances. There is not just loyalty and love, but also an unspoken trust between the boys which makes them seem like brothers rather than just friends. It is these friendships, and the banter between them which almost helps you to forget the looming threat the maze brings, but then made the climactic part of the novel even more exciting and heartbreaking for me.

I absolutely loved The Maze Runner, and I would definitely recommend it, no question. If you love a great dystopian-future/post-apocalyptic novel which a good ounce of friendship, brotherhood and a plot which grips you to the very last page and beyond then this is the book for you!

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a good week!
Anna x